Some fire drill policies have yet to be fulfilled

Austin Loukas

Devoni Novak, Assistant News Editor

Fire drills are conducted as a “double check” to make sure alarm systems are functioning without error and that students know the best route to properly evacuate their dorms. Once out of their buildings, students are supposed to meet at a designated post where Residence Life will take a head count to be sure every student is accounted for. After the building is cleared by the fire department, students may re-enter the building and carry on their business.

According to the Department of Education’s fire safety requirements, each dorm building must have a fire drill at least twice every year. However, some RAs have stated that only one drill has taken place this year and others say their dorms have not been drilled this year at all. RA in Sterling Hall, junior integrative media major, Mike Ogar, said that his building has had just one drill the entire year; it took place this past fall.

In an attempt to fulfill the Department of Education’s mandate, Public Safety and Residence Life team up once every fall and spring semester, and schedule the dorm fire drills.

Manager of Public Safety, Jerry Rebo, explained that each building is in fact consistently given their bi-yearly dose of fire drills.

“Every year, it’s all documented,” Rebo said. “All the dorms will be checked.”

Once a fire drill date is set, Residence Life informs the Resident Assistants in the building of the general time in which the drill will take place. Specifics times are withheld so the drill will be adequate practice, even for the RAs.

RA of Schiowitz Hall, junior nursing major, Allie Givens, said there has only been one occurrence concerning fire in her building all year, which involved a student’s unattended curling iron setting off the alarm. According to Givens, an actual drill has yet to be scheduled for this year.

The collash between written policy and RA reports raises a question: What isn’t the university following through on, practicing enough fire drills or failing to inform the resident assistants?

In addition to practicing fire drills, fire safety at Wilkes also includes an alarm check in each campus building twice a year. Eastern Time, a maintenance company out of Scranton, takes care of the smoke detectors’ upkeep by testing them during summer and winter breaks.

Public safety has their own periodic checks throughout the year as well that involve testing their alert system on a designated computer where all the alarms come through, instantly announcing fires to public safety.

The phone line link between the alarms and their computer allows public safety officers to pin point the location of the triggered alarm, down to the exact room.

The computer also mechanically checks the connection of each campus smoke alarm on a daily basis. If an alarm is suspected of malfunction, the computer will beep, signalling that the alarm needs to be inspected or replaced.

The age of the alarm systems vary from building to building, which according to Rebo is because updates are done as necessary.

“If one goes bad, a new one goes in,” Rebo said.

Some systems date back to the ‘90s, while others, such as the one in Towers are just a few years old. According to the executive director of facilities, John Pesta, every new installment is followed by a timely check by the local fire department to be sure the system is working correctly.

“All of our systems are basically functioning and up to code at this point,” Pesta said.

University Towers is especially notorious for it’s frequent fire alarm incidents. Some towers residence have admitted that they don’t always leave the building because false alarms are so frequent and sometimes occur extremely early in the morning. As a second floor inhabitant of Towers, Junior business administration major, Jasmine Edwards expressed her opinion of the alarm system in towers.

“I think the smoke alarms are too sensitive,” she said.

Another junior business administration major, Terrance Ives, who lived in Towers last year, said that he and his roommates set the smoke alarm off in their apartment three times. He identified the kitchen area as the main culprit. According the Ives, the RAs and other residents would get mad at them because they were repeatedly responsible for complete evacuation, even though it was by accident and happened due to slightly burnt food.

“It’s going to happen,” Ives said. “People are learning how to cook.”

The only legitimate issue with fire in the dorms took place last year when a dryer in the laundry room of Evans went ablaze. Immediately, fire alarms in the building sensed the smoke and sent screeches of warning throughout the entire building.

According to Pesta, an over-loaded machine was the cause of the occurrence. Only the dryer and a few clothes made the injury list.